The Information Search process Model

During the 1980s and 1990s many information process models were developed. One model of particular interest is the Information Search Process (ISP) by Carol Kuhlthau. Her model is quite unique because her research was specifically designed for this area.

Kuhlthau observed the reactions of students, examined various strategies and tracked student progress while engaged in the inquiry/research process. Her observations make her approach to information inquiry incredibly valuable and insightful. The Information Search Process goes beyond the basic model, her research stresses the "attitudinal and emotional aspects of the inquiry process."

Every time I am engaged in the research process for myself or work with students involved in research, I find myself thinking about this model. It explains why I feel the way I feel. Knowing that I am not alone in these feelings, the fact that they are felt by everyone, helps me to persevere and accomplish my research goals and task. I hope that by reading this it will help you too. :)

The Information Search Process Model includes seven stages. Within each stage is a task, thoughts, feelings, actions, and strategies.


  • Initiation - when a person first becomes aware of a lack of knowledge or understanding and fellings of uncertainty and apprehension are commom.
  • Selection - when a general area, topic or problem is identified and initail uncertainty often gives way to a brief sense of optimism and a readiness to begin the search.
  • Exploration - when inconsistent, incompatible information is encountered and uncertainty, confusion, and doubt frequently increase and people find themselves "in the dip" of confidence.
  • Fromulation - when a focused perspective is formed and uncertainty diminishes as confidence begins to increase.
  • Collection - when information pertinent to the focused perspective is gathered and uncertainty subsides as interest and involvement deepens.
  • Presentation - when the search is completed with a new understanding enabling the person to explain his or her learning to others or in some way put the learning to use.

Works Cited

Kuthlthau, Carol C. "Information Search Process." School of Communication and Information - Rutgers University. Rutgers State University, Jan. 2012 Web. 22 Jan. 2012. <http:"" ~kuhlthau="" information_search_process.htm="">.</http:>

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